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(NOTE- I got out of character on a lot of this, so I'm trying to rewrite sections. The story's under slow reconstruction.) 

Timeline: I'm setting this story sometime before the first HP movie. If the hug in chapter one seems ooc the only thing it's used for is message delivery: I needed an idea so Dumbledore and Snape could pass a final, private message between each other without the guards overhearing.

Anti-Litigation Charms: 

1: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. (except original characters and the plot) No copyright or trademark infringement is intended; I'm only borrowing the characters and doing this for fun. No need to sue me then, I make no money, so no money owed. The present disclaimer charm applies to all subsequent chapters; I won't repeat them.

I picture the characters as they're portrayed in the movies, and I'm writing the story from Snape's viewpoint.


PROLOGUEEdit

Cornelius Fudge slipped his wand from its sleeve holster and laid it on the table. It wasn't exactly pointed at me, but then, it wasn't exactly pointed away from me either.

“Snape, I have orders to take you in. You’re going where you belong. We’re taking you to Azkaban.”

Gasps came from behind me.

Azkaban? “Who gave you . . .?” I began. 

Three voices yelling the Cruciatus curse silenced me; my legs buckled under me and I went down.

The rest of the staff cried out in shock.

I struggled to rise despite the pain, but three wands whipped out and jabbed into my chest, neck and forehead. “Don’t try it!”

“Stop!” a voice rang through the room. “If you want to curse and arrest a member of my staff, you’d better have a good reason for it! Get away from him!”

“We’ve got a reason! Maybe he hasn’t shown you, Dumbledore! Look at his arm! He has the Mark! You’ve got a Death Eater in your midst!”

“I’m not a Death Eater,” I gasped, forcing myself back up on shaking legs despite the agony. “I have the Dark Mark, but I’m not a Death Eater. I’ve been working for Albus Dumbledore.”

“And you expect us to believe that?”

Black glared at me. “I had a feeling you’d turn traitor on us, Snivellus.”

“Why don’t you go kiss a hippogriff?! I’m not a traitor!”

“I’d rather kiss Hagrid’s dog!” 

I didn't need a Sonorous charm, I screamed at the tops of my lungs. “That can be arranged, Black!” 

Everyone began yelling at once. 

Albus finally cast a Sonorus on himself and outshouted us. “This is uncalled for, Minister, he’s done nothing wrong! You don’t have any proof!”

“We have proof,” the witch on my left spoke up. “Snape used Dark magic. We saw Lucius Malfoy and him together in Knockturn Alley earlier this week. Malfoy’s a known Death Eater; I don’t know what else Snape would be doing with him other than conspiring or aiding him. When Snape noticed us, he used some kind of slashing curse and almost hit us with it. I don’t remember the incantation he used. But they split up and Disapparated before we could grab them.”

Sectumsempra, I thought, and winced. I hadn’t had a choice in the matter; I couldn’t betray my true loyalty to the Aurors without having Malfoy kill me. I’d fired the curse in their direction, deliberately aiming to miss.

Albus turned to me. "I'm sorry, Severus, there's nothing I can do at this time.”

“Take his wand.”

“No. Please.” I backed up, holding my wand protectively against my chest. 

“If you surrender your wand to a fellow member of the staff to keep for you, we won’t have to break it. But, remember, no tricks, Snape.” The Aurors’ wands rose as one, aiming at me in warning. 

Nodding, I turned to Dumbledore and extended my wand to him, handle-first. Our eyes locked. “Headmaster, will you keep this for me, please?” 

“I will.” The elder wizard took my wand, slid it into his sleeve holster, and then pulled me into a hard, brief hug, leaning in close to my ear. “Get Professor Andrews out of there, Severus. I’ll see both of you when you get out. Take care of yourself.”

“Yes, sir.” I returned the hug before shackles snapped into place around my wrists. “Headmaster, my class schedule’s in my desk in my office, in the third drawer to the right. Help the Gryffindors as much as you can, because, God knows, they need it.”

“I will.”

“Come on, Snape.” The aurors dragged me up; a wand stabbed viciously into the center of my back. “March!”

We left Hogwarts and headed for the Apparition point. Despite the shackles and the Aurors treating me like a prisoner, I moved unhurriedly with my usual grace, somehow managing to put a menacing stalk in each stride. 

I won’t let my friend down, I vowed resolutely, my eyes hardening. If it’s the last thing I do in this life, I’ll get her out and bring her home where she belongs.


CHAPTER ONE: Arrival At Azkaban- From Name To NumbersEdit

The sky cracked open to pour its contents down upon the jagged isle, hissing as it struck the stone ramparts and walls. Inside, the windowless halls echoed with the moans, sobs and ragged screams of captives lost in private hells, driven to despair and even madness by the still mist that hung in the air and the aftereffects of the silent creatures that had inhabited it for so long.

Though wizard guards had replaced the Dementors, the despair left behind seemed to hang around the fortress like a tangible fog. I looked over the water at the forbidding walls, thinking, Soon now, Maddy. Soon, you won’t be alone.

“Not looking forward to going in there, are you?” a guard jeered, following my gaze.

“As a matter of fact, I can’t wait to move in,” I said dryly, ducking my head against the driving rain. “I bet you’ve refurnished since the other guards left.”

Another guard pointed, indicating a rocky little path only broad enough for two people to go at once. “The boat’s down there at the jetty. Come on.”

When I turned onto the path, my left heel slipped on the wet stones and I lost my balance; I started to fall over the edge. A pair of hands pulled me back. “We wouldn’t want you to have an accident before we got you in there.”

I wonder how many prisoners have suffered ‘accidents’? I thought to myself, looking over the edge again. Anyone falling from here would plunge into the water below. You can’t take that risk, Severus. You have to stay alive so you can rescue your friend.

Another, fainter voice seemed to whisper in my ear, growing louder, beckoning me to . . . step off. Just one step. That was all I had to take. You could end it all right here. It would be so easy. Just step from the path, gravity and the current will do the rest of the work. . . .

One step. . . .

I stepped toward the edge, eyes glazing . . .

and recoiled violently at a yell.

“Snape?!” The nearest guard clapped his hands together hard in front of my face. The other jerked me away from the edge and physically shook me. "Come on! Snap out of it!"

I jumped in shock; my eyes darted back and forth between them, trying to focus.

Seeing my distant expression, they nodded to each other. “You heard a voice telling you to jump, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” I breathed. “I would have done it, too, if you hadn’t . . . what happened?”

“Dementors.”

“But I thought the Ministry. . .?”

Before I finished my question, the other guard answered. “The Ministry got rid of them. Though the Dementors themselves are gone, they've been here for so long that their effect remains. Anyone who’s here can sense it."

I shuddered.

"We can’t have prisoners escaping from us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t aid them when they suffer from Dementor aftereffects.” She took a Chocolate Frog from a pocket, cast a freezing charm on it to keep it from moving and tossed it to me. “Here. Eat it. It’ll help; we’re having them delivered in bulk through the Floo system in the guardhouse.”

“Thanks,” I whispered, obeying. I felt a surge of happiness go through me, with no words to describe how I felt. Even through everything that had just occurred, a small smile quirked the corners of my lips as an idea came to me: I bet you could cast a Patronus in here and it would work. It would probably panic everyone, but it would work. I gave myself a mental thump on the head. You had better wait until you’re in the main prison to do that. Use it to find Madison.

<*> <*> <*> <*> <*> <*> <*> <*>

When I noticed Cornelius Fudge sitting behind the office desk, my pupils dilated and my jaw hit the floor. “What’s he doing here?!” I demanded under my breath.

“Ssshh,” the guard on my left hissed, reaching and squeezing my arm in warning. If I lost control, Fudge would hex me.

Blanking my expression, I nodded. Keep your mouth shut and your ears and eyes open.

“I’ve read the charges against Snape. He has a history of using the Unforgivables under You-Know-Who. He’s a former Death Eater, so he has the Dark Mark on his left arm. We tried to take him and a group of other Death Eaters in, but he used Dark magic against us, a slashing curse.”

I'm sorry, I thought.

“Search him.”

“The prisoner surrendered his wand to the Headmaster of Hogwarts before arrival. We witnessed it.”

“Even so, we have to do a second search; he could have other weapons on him.”

I submitted indifferently. The faster they got the search done, the faster they’d put me in with Madison.

The typical pat-down followed. “He’s clean, there’s nothing on him except the Dark Mark. Do you have the needle?”

My eyes widened. Shit! The tattooing needle!

*The animagi get identification/anti-transformation collars instead of getting a tattoo inked into their skin,* I remembered Albus saying. *And you don’t want them sticking a number on you. They found out about Sirius’ transformation and escape and they’re not taking chances with that again.*

Fudge reached to pull my sleeve back as a witch approached with the needle, but yanked his hand away a second later, yelping in alarm. A large black panther had taken my place.

Everyone gasped.

“Merlin’s beard! He’s an animagus! A bloody big panther!”

“Get one of the collars! Hurry!” The rapid tattoo of footfalls sounded behind me as someone sprinted from the room.

“Snape, I’m going to count to three,” Fudge stammered. “By the time I reach three, you’re going to resume your human form, or I’ll be forced to use the Cruciatus on you. One!”

The panther vanished with a loud pop; I reappeared in the center of the room on my hands and knees.

Carefully, keeping an eye on me, an Auror moved forward and snapped the collar around my neck before I could shift position. The collar glowed white for a second, then dimmed as it adjusted itself to match my magical signature. “Okay. Now you can get up. Do it slowly. There’s been enough panic in this place; and we don’t need any more of it.”

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